Real talk: Speaking another language can be very intimidating. You worry about pronunciation, proper verb conjugation, and finding le mot juste. And it can be frustrating when compared to how eloquently you speak your native tongue! How do you go from expressing your opinion on international affairs to only being able to tell someone what pastry you prefer? Nothing builds speaking confidence like practice but most will need building blocks from which to start. Below are a few French expressions that will get you starting to speak French and building up your confidence in no time!*

If you are a beginner speaker and want to practice with us, don’t hesitate to join us for our beginner conversation group on Thursday, February 11.

*What if you worry you won’t understand what is said back to you? Good question! It’s possible you won’t understand everything but the idea is to gain confidence in starting the conversation.

Bonjour ! or Salut ! = Hello!

Most likely this is the first word you learn in your French class- and for good reason! Greetings are the best way to start a conversation. It’s easy (and understandable) to be timid but a friendly “bonjour !” can take you very far. It shows you are willing to chat and engage with the other person; who can say no to a friendly face? Bonjour is very important, especially in France as many shopkeepers expect to hear this greeting when you open their door (personal experience: you will get scolded if you don’t say it!).

C’est bon ? = Is it good?

This question can be used in the context of asking what the person is eating/drinking. You are basically asking if what they are consuming is tasty. Questions show interest in another and most people are usually more than happy to give you their opinion of what they are eating. Food is a great conversation-starter as it is generally a safe topic and one typically learns the words for different types of food in the first year of learning a language.

J’aime votre robe/manteau/chapeau/etc = I like your dress/coat/hat/etc

Just like in English, paying someone a sincere compliment is a great way to start a conversation. You get to practice your clothing vocab and the other person gets to feel good about their selection for the day. A win/win! Eventually the conversation can develop to where the person purchased or received the article of clothing, the history of the object you are complimenting, etc.

Comme il fait beau ! = Wow, it’s nice out!

Normally talking about the weather is not the most interesting topic- but it gets the job done here. You can share your observation while also starting to engage in some friendly conversation about the type of weather you like or don’t like or what you are used to.

You can take control of your language learning! Just take your first step and the rewards will be plenty. If you want to visit France and practice your French, maybe don’t go to Paris where many of the restaurants, shops, and attractions have English-speaking staff. There might be a few uncomfortable moments, but it will be worth it! Take it from a girl who was scared to eke out a “salut” to her teaching assistants in college. I am nowhere near perfect in my speaking skills but I promise- you CAN make progress!

Natalie Collet

Former Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French!

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